Press Release
December 16, 2010

Transcript of Kapihan sa Senado

On what had been accomplished by the Senate in the past six months

SP Apart from the Budget, we passed a bill which we thought is an expression of our position on social justice which, if pushed through, will provide security to the kasambahay population of the country. That's one. Second, we had considered the proclamation of the President granting amnesty to some members of the military and the Philippine National Police and their supporters in connection with the Oakwood mutiny, the Marine stand-off, and the Manila Peninsula incident. In addition, the members of the Senate, especially the chairmen of the Senate committees, conducted hearings on the various bills that have already been filed so that in January we will tackle the pending legislative bills that we failed to dispose during the last six months. At the onset of the new Congress, the members of both Houses would have to re-organize. It took some time to re-organize, to select a Senate president, to adopt the Rules of the Senate, to elect the officers, to create the committees, to assign the members of the Senate to the Commission on Appointments, and to organize the various constitutional organs like the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and so with the JBC. After that we had to study the gamut of problems confronting our countries. Many of us drafted proposed solutions to those problems and these are the bills that we have filed at the committees. The committees heard these bills. We had held 125 public hearings during the last six months and delivered privilege speeches to call the attention to some ills of the country and the community.

On whether the Reproductive Health Bill will be a priority next year

SP It is not a priority in the Senate, but it is something that we could not avoid to confront. This is going to be one of the most debatable and the most serious pieces of legislation that will confront both Houses of Congress. It will divide the country very politically. Even our faith will be involved. The economic interest of the country will be a factor and the security of this nation for the next 500 years will be on the balance. This bill is not really that easy. It is a matter that will affect and infringe on the faith of each one of us.

We took out the budgeted amount for contraceptive pills, injectables and condoms and transferred it to education for the enhancement of the state colleges and universities and to other programs of the government that, in our opinion, would need additional funds.

I was in a seminar of legislators and religious leaders the other day. One of the very concepts that's going to be discussed regarding this bill is the notion that pregnancy is a disease to be cured. The thrust of the bill, as I understand, is that there is an implicit assumption that pregnancy is a disease to be covered by health proceedings. We have to minister to the birth of the child because that is also a matter of life and death. But to have a bill that assumes that it is something to be cured like a disease just like malaria will carry a lot of disagreements and a lot of discussions.

Comments on Senator Trillanes' amnesty

SP We are hopeful that Senator Trillanes will be joining us shortly after we open next year. We have already concurred with the proclamation of the President. We accepted the recommendation of the House which they embodied in their version of the Concurrent Resolution with certain interpretations that we recorded in the records of the Senate. The only delaying factor at that point will be how long or how fast the Department of the National Defense can process the application of the beneficiaries of the amnesty proclamation (Proclamation No. 75) of the President.

'Yung proclamation ni Judge Pimentel, ang balita ko tapos na 'yung desisyon. Ang hindi ko alam ay kung ano 'yung desisyon. I assumed na 'yung laman ng kanyang desisyon ay guilty verdict against the people who are involved in that case. I think that the judge exercised a sound and wise discretion in not promulgating the decision because it's already a certainty that the proclamation of the President will take effect. Therefore all those people who are covered before him are going to be the subject of an amnesty, if they apply. If they don't apply then the court has a valid ground to promulgate a decision against those who would not apply.

If their application for amnesty will be rejected by the DOJ, then the applicants can appeal to the Office of the President.

Comments on the case of Senator Lacson

SP His participation in the Senate is quite uncertain because we do not know where he is. I do not have any contact with him. There's a pending warrant of arrest waiting for him if he should come out. Like Senator Trillanes, he will probably be in custody if he comes out. Although according to the papers he said he will never come out.

Comments on a possible shoot to kill order for Senator Lacson

SP If you're a fugitive from justice everything is possible. They can issue an alias warrant as the warrant expired. They can order the law enforcers to make him a target if he resists. I'm sure that the law enforcers will be very circumspect in doing that to a public official duly elected by the people.

Comments on the pork barrel fund of Vice President Binay

SP Dapat lang meron siya. Kung may pork barrel ang mga senador at congressmen ay nararapat lang na 'yung vice president, who is just a hair's breath away from the presidency, bakit naman natin siya pagkakaitan ng kanyang karapatan. I was the one who asked for the augmentation of the budget of the vice president not in the form of a pork barrel. It was just an augmentation. He's the no. 2 man. He represents the sovereign people. His office is created by the Constitution. He represents the Republic of the Philippines next to the President. We are not in a monarchic position. But he is in effect in the position of a crown prince. I suggested na dagdagan natin ang budget ng vice president. Napaka-kawawa naman ng budget ng opisina ng vice president as compared to the budget of the office of the smallest cabinet member. He needs people to surround him so that he will be given a flow of information and analyze information so that he can learn in the process. Suppose all of the sudden he is elevated to the position of the chief executive of the land, who will suffer? Not him, but you and I and everyone else.

On what happened to the PDAF of Senator Lacson

SP It goes to the treasury. Alam mo 'yung tinatanong n'yo d'yan, mga figures lang yan sa budget. Ngayon, 'yung back-up cash or funding nasa treasury yan. Pag nire-release ng Malacañang 'yun sa mga senador o mga congressmen, hindi in cash. It will be released in the form of a SARO for a particular project.

On The Truth Commission

SP I cannot understand why they (Malacañang) could not use the Department of Justice. If the purpose is to investigate the past activities of a previous administration, then why not the Department of Justice? If I remember correctly, the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman is for people in government, if they commit venalities. The former President is no longer in the government although she is a member of Congress but you're investigating her acts, not as a member of Congress but as a member of the executive. You cannot apply the ruling of the Supreme Court, (the position?) in connection to the Truth Commission as a basis to deny the investigation of the former President by the Department of Justice because the Department of Justice is mandated to investigate any crime committed in the country.

On Using PCGG in lieu of the Truth Commission

SP Only to the extent that there is ill-gotten wealth. That is the mandate of the PCGG. It's mandate is to investigate corruption but it will investigate corruption as a basis for acquired or recover ill-gotten wealth.

Q Hindi ba din 'yun ang suspicion sa past administration, that they amassed wealth?

Correct. PCGG can be a vehicle to investigate that aspect of the case. But suppose there are corruptive activities that happened that did not entail accumulation of ill-gotten wealth? On alleged Ampatuan bribery

SP If I were in the place of the government, I would have taken an immediate action to freeze their assets. They have to explain how they accumulated such amounts of money based on their income tax returns. I am sure that they must have filed income tax returns. You can freeze their assets. You can probably attach those assets if you file the proper cases unless they can show that they have a legitimate business to justify their accumulation of such tremendous amount of wealth.

Q Can the freezing of assets apply to Sen. Ping Lacson?

SP How can you freeze the assets of Ping Lacson? I do not know if he is involved in any unexplained accumulation of wealth.

On RH Bill as a priority bill

SP It's not a priority for us here but we cannot skirt the issue if it will be reported out by the proper committee. I'm not sure whether there is a counterpart bill or a House bill filed in the Senate. Itong RH bill maraming aspeto ito. We have to be very, very careful in approaching it because many of the countries now which adopted a population control policy are reversing themselves.

Q China is the only one which succeeded in adopting the one-child policy...

SP Singapore, too. There are many countries that had adopted. But what has happened I think is that at this point, they realize that their young population has contracted while their aging population has ballooned. So the shape of their population, if you can imagine, is like a mushroom.

Q If the RH bill will not be a priority bill next year, what are the priority bills?

SP My priority is the Anti-Trust Bill, Power Reduction Bill, that we heard already; the creation of a national survival fund for climate change adaptation, preparation of the country.

On NDF peace talks

Q You, Sir, are not a stranger to this issue since you have faced this issue since you were a DND secretary for so long, are you optimistic with this peace talks with the CCP/NDF?

SP The answer is no. How can you be optimistic when I read in the papers today that they had killed 10 soldiers plus a child in Samar? If this group is really interested in peace then they should have already cautioned their armed people not to kill.

Q Do you believe that the armed force of the NDF here are under one central command?

SP I do not know, I am no longer current with the situation. I think they think they are already broken into factions, different groups, have different areas of control. There's an economic issue also involved.

Q The peace talks with the MILF seem to be snagged also?

SP I hate to throw cold water on all of these efforts ... I admire the tenacity of our government in continuing the search for peace in this country and I go along with that. But if you ask me whether I am optimistic, I am not optimistic. I cannot say that the government is not sincere in its effort to search for peace. But peace will only be attained if the other side is of the same mind-bend. For as long as people are not willing to lay their arms and they continue to show their belligerence to the duly constituted government of the republic, then I think we will be fooling ourselves if we will lower our guard.

On Bataan Nuclear Plant

I am in favor of it. In fact, my host in China when I went there, Mr. Liu, who is the head of the State Grid of China, the biggest corporation in China, is coming to the country in January. I am going to host a lunch for him and from him we should learn, because he is a knowledgeable person about power. China has the biggest hydro-electric power system in the world now. They have the huge dam construction in the Himalayan mountain. They are anticipating the future and they are now going to construct many nuclear plants. Why? Because fossil fuel is not infinite, it is a finite material and sometime in the future this will be gone. Coal will be very expensive, fossil fuel like diesel, crude, bunker would be very expensive. The only thing that will be cheap will be water which comes every time and then if we have the rains. In the temperate countries they have the snow caps that will melt ... so they want their people to be assured of a better life so they're going to construct more nuclear plants. But in our case, we are afraid. The environmentalists ask: "where are you going to stock pile the fuel and spent fuel?" If other countries can do it, why can we not do the same thing?

On having a timetable for the bills

SP I do not do any timetables. I'll work as fast as I can, without being rushed or impaired. On whether the RH Bill is certified Hindi yata. You know, when you talk of timetables, mahirap 'yan because I must admit that I am not Socrates or Plato or Aristotle. I have to study what I am going to do, quite well enough according to my best lights. It takes me some time to eventually digest everything.

On whether there is opposition to any of the pending bills

SP I always assume opposition to everything that I do. In the case of the Anti-trust Law, I am sure that the big guys in business would be opposing the bill. In the case of the Power Reduction Bill that I filed, I am sure that the finance managers of the government would be against the bill.

On whether to cite Dante Jimenez for contempt

SP Kung ako ang mahistrado ikukulong ko siya. You do not say that. I do not know whether he is a lawyer, he is not even a lawyer, I think.

Q Dapat bang i-disbar?

SP Abogado nga siya? Abogado ba si Jimenez? Kung abogado 'yun, tatanggalan 'yun ng lisensiya.

Q So dapat sir i-contempt?

SP You can criticize the Supreme Court, there's no question. No one is beyond criticism, but you have to use a language that is not vulgar.

Q Dapat po umaksiyon sina Chief Justice Corona against Jimenez?

SP I cannot speak for them but alam mo, hindi pwede 'yung loudmouth na ganun.

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